With Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) keeping in abeyance a proposal to introduce a fleet of electric and CNG buses for its feeder services, it is now clear that a few dozen private and KSRTC buses will be roped in for the purpose.
Aimed at hastening the process of re-routing buses away from the metro corridor and diverting a few of them as feeder buses, the four bus operators’ organizations in the city have registered four societies under which buses of individual owners will operate, KMRL sources and office bearers of bus operator bodies confided.
“We are in the last lap of talks with bus operators for re-routing services and to operate a few as feeder services. We have sought the State government’s intervention to enable the speedy re-routing of a bulk of services from the Aluva-MG Road-Pettah metro corridor. On our part, we are engaged in discussions with the municipal bodies of Aluva and Kalamassery to establish routes for operation of feeder services,” metro sources said.
The routes are expected to be finalised in a month. Also, a few service roads will have to be improved or resurfaced, and obstacles like electric posts relocated further to the side, to accommodate feeder buses.
According to the initial plan, a mixed fleet of 40 buses that are run on CNG and electricity were slated to be set apart for the metro feeder services, linking stations with suburban towns. The Union Ministry for New and Renewable Energy too was keen on the initiative.
“This proposal has been kept in abeyance since it will mean adding to the number of buses in the city and suburbs, worsening congestion and pollution. Our primary aim is to ensure optimal use of private and KSRTC buses currently being operated in the region, furthering the number of commuters who rely on public transport from the present 55 % to at least 70%,” metro sources said.
Meanwhile, Ernakulam District Private Bus Operators’ Association general secretary K.B. Suneer said the four newly-formed societies would operate in accordance with the guidelines issued by the metro agency, so that it would be a win-win situation for the metro and private bus operators. “This will hopefully end reckless driving, since the revenue from ticket sales will be divided among bus owners. It will also help in the procurement of spare parts in bulk at discounted rates,” he added. Mr. Suneer also welcomed the proposed colour-coding of buses depending on the routes on which they are operated. Under the system, buses run on various routes will sport different colors, helping commuters identify them better.